Everyone seems to be talking about the millenials and the generation that is going to define the workforce over the next few years. The statistics will vary but 30-50% of the workforce by 2020 will be the millennial generation. If this is going to be true and the other 50% of the workforce is not a millennial how are we going to deal? This period of time is unique; we have four generations working side by side across the world to me that should be more of a focus than how are we going to make the millenials happy.
Everyone seems to put so much focus on the millenials but in my opinion we are just people, the world should be focusing on how we are going to work with multi-generations who have all been raised drastically different. How as a manager can you be fair but accommodate someone who wasn’t born digital and someone who was? How do you balance experience vs. getting something done quickly if it involves digital?
I am a millennial and like so many of my counter parts, have grown up digital. We are the group that will be the first to grow up with cellphones, the Internet and many more items. Call us what you want, Millenials, Gen Y, the ‘I” generation, etc. Our education has been different then generations before us and we have a work ethic that is different than those before us. Not all of us believe in staying 9-5 just to show face. When we are done with our work for the day we don’t want to sit at our desks and twirl our thumbs til the clock strikes 5 but when there is something to get done we are more than willing to stay “late” because to us that is just part of the job. We do not believe in ideal time and that can drive some of our co-workers or family members crazy.
Lately I have been having several conversations with co-workers, peers, friends at other companies, millenials and non-millenials alike. The conversation doesn’t focus on workforce arrangements, technology or lack-there of in the workplace, or work-life balance. It focuses on the fact that generations before us see millenials as greedy and unwilling to work for what they have. There is a rumor floating around that millenials feel entitled to promotions and raises and have high expectations right off the bat and we challenge the status quo but that rumor has been set by those who have had a bad experience with one milllenial and is stereotyping us all into one group.
You are right we do feel entitled, we do have high expectations, and we do believe we should be promoted or receive a raise. But we don’t look at it or for it if it is something we haven’t earned. We do want to challenge the status quo and ask why not just because we can but because that is how we learn. We are not just asking to hear ourselves ask, we are asking because we genuinely want to understand the thought process and the decision science. We have seen many of our generation (and other generations) before us create amazing new products and services by challenging the status quo – ever heard of Mark Zuckerberg or Twitter? Who would have thought people could say so much in just 140 characters?
We have the highest expectations for ourselves and want to do right by the companies we work for. We want to make our managers proud; as well as, our families. But in turn we feel that we deserve the respect of our co-workers. However, if the respect needs to be earned, we are willing to work for it and show those who doubt us or doubt our intentions what we are good for.
What is hard for us to understand is how someone who simply has “experience” can make double what we make when we are willing to work twice as hard. Now please don’t get me wrong, people older than us should make more money than us, they have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into their jobs for years often times before we were ever born. No, those people have earned it. I am not referring to the people who work hard everyday or those who add value to everything they do, the teams they are on, and the people they inspire but if you can look around your office and say that everyone is that way and gives 100% all the time or even 90% effort all the time, man I want to work there.
The people who work hard everyday, do their job, try and do better and do the best they can for the company they work for have earned what they make, the promotions they receive or the bonuses that are awarded to them. I am referring to the people that are not like these people. That may not even give 50% of their effort to a job they are making twice what a millennial is making (the math is simple and it doesn’t add up). It is hard for us to comprehend the rules that have people sitting in a role when everyone on their team knows that person is not a contributor, rarely shows up, is always doing things that don’t relate to the help, is not a team player yet still earns a paycheck. This is probably the most frustrating piece for us and is also the single most de-motivating things out there for the millenials. I am fortunate to not be a part of a team like this, everyone is a contributor on our small team and we work as a team. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be able to accomplish half of the things we do.
If we are a generation that is going to define the workforce in the next few years, we will not allow these people to continue on as they are. Our mission is to inspire others to work harder but we can’t do it alone. We need help from companies, no longer can it be okay that people sit idle and just accept a paycheck and the solution may not be what many companies out there do – fire the bottom performers – it may involve getting innovative with how you inspire those bottom performers to want to achieve more.
If the millenials, a generation stereotyped as greedy, spoiled, and unwilling to work can make a change and prove the previous generations in the workforce wrong – than as the millenials we have to give companies who use the excuse “because we have always done it this way” a chance to prove us wrong. The road goes both ways. And we are willing to learn.This post is solely based on conversations I have had with peers from around the country and research that I have been doing on this topic, it is in no way a reflection on any of the companies I have worked for or currently work for. This is a growing issue and a topic of hot debate. I am excited to see how it plays out through 2020 and beyond.